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Classification of Sciences
So far, we have been talking about science in general; we needed this to determine the features of the scientific method of cognition in its difference and similarity with others, and thereby determine the approach to psychology as a science.
The term "science" also refers to individual branches of scientific knowledge (psychology is one of them), which differ from each other in a number of essential characteristics. In order to further determine the place of psychology in the system of sciences, we consider this in more detail.
First of all, sciences differ in their object. By the object of a particular science is meant that side of reality, the study of which this science is aimed at. Often the object is fixed in the very name of science.
For example, geology is the science of the Earth, biology is the science of wildlife, etc.
At the same time, no science is able to describe its object in its entirety for various reasons: knowledge is infinite, how infinite the world is, and no object can be described in all respects; in this regard, a particular science is forced to limit the scope of its interests, otherwise it is in danger of "spreading" into areas that it is not able to cover.
For example, biology does not deal with the structure of atoms of molecules of living organisms or the laws of the correct thinking of a person - a living creature, leaving this to physics and logic, respectively, or going out for discussion into “frontier” sciences such as biophysics).
In addition, any science is limited in its approach to the object by the tradition in which it was formed, by the categorical (conceptual) apparatus, the language that has developed in it, the methods of analysis and empirical research that dominate it, etc. . (The forced specialization of sciences poses a serious problem in terms of building a unified scientific picture of the world: the difference in approaches and languages makes it difficult to generalize; in this connection, “frontier sciences” play an important role).
In this regard, the subject of science is distinguished from the object of science, that is, by what sides the studied object is represented in science. If an object exists independently of science, then the subject is formed together with science and is fixed in its system of categories. Let's take a look at this as an example.
Biology is the science of wildlife. Nature exists regardless of whether biology exists and, in general, whether someone is trying to study it, that is, objectively. Biology, however, studies only what it considers to be related to living nature and its manifestations, and this depends on the prevailing theories.
Thus, the object and the subject of science do not coincide: the subject does not fix all sides of the object, but it may paradoxically include what is missing in the object.
For example, alchemy studied the laws of transmutation of metals, which is now considered in most cases unrealistic.
In a certain respect, we can say that the development of science is the development of its subject. The problem of the relationship between the object and the subject of science is one of the controversial. In the literature, one can find the opinion that an object is that part of an object that science stands out as specific for itself.
For example, a person acts as an object of anthropology, biology, ethnography, physiology, logic, psychology, etc., reflecting his (subject) in it. It seems to us, however, that here we are not talking about an object of science, but about a possible object of study (for example, psychology studies not only man).
Let us return, however, to the distinction of sciences according to the principle of the object. We will use the classification proposed by B. M. Kedrov. Kedrov distinguishes two main scientific objects: they are nature (organic and inorganic) and man (that is, human society and thinking). The line between them, of course, is conditional.
According to the features of these objects, the natural sciences and the humanities are distinguished; the latter are divided into social and philosophical. Thus, three main sections of scientific knowledge are identified, each of which represents a complex of sciences. In addition to the three main sections, there are large sections located at the junction of the main. This classification is presented in the form of the so-called “triangle of sciences”.
We somewhat simplified the original scheme, in particular, deliberately not including, for the time being, the psychology that B. M. Kedrov assigns a special place to.
It is likely that you have a question: why did the human sciences turn out to be separate from the natural sciences? And should any science about man be considered humanitarian? After all, a person may well be represented as a natural creature endowed with a physical body in which diverse biochemical processes take place.
In many ways you are right. Of course, a number of human sciences (for example, human anatomy and physiology) are natural. Speaking about the humanities, we mean that they study something specific for a person and not amenable to (or, let’s say more carefully, difficult to give) those principles of explanation and cognition that are accepted in nature sciences. If the changes occurring with natural objects do not depend on the will of the objects themselves (the will, as is commonly believed, is inherent only to man), then the person, in the words of S. L. Rubinstein, is the center of the restructuring of being, that is, the subject. A stone rolls down a mountain not because it wants it - external forces act on it.
Of course, external forces also act on a person, but his activity is determined not only (and often not so much) by them, but his internal position, his values, aspirations, worldview, vision of a life perspective; in other words, man is a self-determining creature, that is, man himself determines his life.
Studying animal communities does not provide an adequate understanding of the life of human society (although there have been attempts to draw analogies). Understanding a person as a special phenomenon, essentially fundamentally different from an animal, requires a special approach to its study. If, when studying nature, one can try to reproduce some of its fragments in the laboratory - in the sense that it is possible to simulate situations of exposure to the object of some external factors, and the changes that occur with the object as a result of this, be considered an analogue of what really happens in nature, then as applied to a person, this at least turns out to be insufficient, and in some humanities such a reproduction is generally impossible - for example, in history. If, when studying natural phenomena, it is appropriate to “extract” individual fragments from nature for research, then a person as the most complex single spiritual-bodily being should ideally be considered in all the diversity of his individual and social being - which, of course, is extremely difficult, but as a line of thought and Research can be asked.
Thus, we can talk not only about the natural sciences and the humanities, distinguished by object: we can talk about two different approaches, two methods of scientific thinking - natural science and the humanities. As you will see later, this has a direct bearing on psychology.
Along with the classification of sciences according to the object, other ways of distinguishing them are possible. For example, the division of sciences into fundamental and applied is accepted.
Fundamental (sometimes called “pure”) are sciences that know the world regardless of how much practical use of the knowledge gained is possible.
Applied sciences, on the contrary, are oriented toward practice, applying to it the knowledge gained in the fundamental sciences, and serve the immediate needs of society.
So, we briefly discussed what science is and what are its main varieties. Now we can discuss what psychology is like a science.
To do this, consider the following issues:
What is the object and subject of psychology?
2. What is its place in the system of sciences?
3. What is its structure?
4. What methods does she have?
The answers to these questions, in fact, will be an introduction to psychology as a science and will help us consider the activities of a professional psychologist as a research scientist.
What is the object and subject of psychology? It would seem that there should be no difficulties with the answer to this question, but this is not so.
In the literal translation, as we have already said, psychology is the science of the soul (from the Greek psyche - soul and logo study, science). If the soul is an object of psychology, then we are faced with a number of intractable problems.
First: what is a soul? If this is some metaphor that allows us to explain, say, human activity, especially experiences, thinking, etc., then it cannot be an object of psychology, being only a concept that facilitates our reasoning through an appeal, it is not entirely clear why. "Why does man think?" - we ask ourselves a question and answer: “Because he has a soul”; but they could say: “Nature so wanted” or simply: “It so happened.” In this case, the “soul” would act as an explanatory principle (still in need of additional discussion), but not as an object of science.
Let us approach this on the other hand and ask ourselves: Does the soul exist as a reality? After all, only recognition of its objectivity can make it an object of science.
The answer to this question, as you understand, no. The existence of the soul is undoubted for some and conditional for others. Let's just say: if a soul exists, then it is impossible to directly see, “grab”, it cannot be measured; impossible to experiment with her. This is one of the specific features of psychology as a science: if in religion or art one can talk about the soul without any reservations, then science, pointing to its existence as an independent reality, must prove or justify this existence. And the soul, we repeat, is empirically elusive: we can observe behavior, listen and record speech, analyze the products of creativity, evaluate the success of activities, etc. - but all this is not the soul, but manifestations at best.
If instead of “soul” we say “psyche” (bearing in mind the special form of reflection of the world inherent in highly organized beings), then the situation in this regard will not change significantly: the psyche also “escapes” direct investigation, like the soul, and to prove its existence as an independent reality is just as difficult.
One can try to approach the question of the object of psychology differently, evaluate what exactly - inorganic, organic nature, society, thinking (see. "Triangle of sciences") can act as such; however, it turns out that without a discussion of what the “soul” or “psyche” is, the answer is impossible - you need to have the criteria of “animation” (and, by the way, there are thinkers who consider the whole world animated!)
It would seem that the conclusion is disappointing. Does the aforesaid mean that psychology does not have an object, or, what is almost the same, is this object extremely indefinite?
Apparently not quite so. Indeed, for us it is certain (or, as they say, “to us
Petrovsky Arthur Vladimirovich - doctor of psychological sciences, professor, academician of the Russian Academy of Education, for many years was its president. One of the leading domestic experts in the field of theoretical psychology, the history of psychology, personality psychology, social psychology. Author and editor of many textbooks on psychology.
given ”) that images, feelings, feelings live in us; that there is some special reality that is different from that which we perceive as external.
We use the image of A. V. Petrovsky; there is the sun - and there is my thought about the sun; there is an experience of joy when the sun appears, and the way I see the sun - the image of the sun in me - is not the sun itself, but something special. There is me, a man, and there is my idea of myself, my attitude to myself.
I have desires, feelings, emotions that prompt me to activity; I can imagine what I have never seen; I can remember what has long disappeared from my life. In other words, there is a world (including other people, and myself), and there is how this world lives in me and other people - in images, thoughts, relationships, that is, the world of psychic phenomena, subjective reality. (This doesn’t mean that psychology studies only individual psychic reality - although initially it was it that was the subject of psychology. A little later you will learn, in particular, about social psychology, etc.)
All this, we repeat, is quite obvious to us; and since this subjective reality exists, you can try to understand what it is, how it arises, develops, dies, what manifests itself, what determines its existence and how it happens. Everyone has their own subjective reality, if we assume that it is formed according to the same basic principles, then you can try to find them, that is, discover the patterns that follow its development and existence.
Perhaps for an analysis of this reality, a look inside oneself is enough? At one time, psychologists thought something like this, trying to understand psychic phenomena through specially organized self-observation (introspection) and reports on its results - that is, psychologists tried to observe their own experiences, images, thoughts, their relationship, connection, appearance, disappearance. Important data were obtained along this path, but it turned out that this is not enough - because in yourself you can observe and evaluate only that which is realized (and this is not easy - you cannot simultaneously think about something and think about how you think!) ; meanwhile (and you will get to know this later) it was shown that the unconscious lives in us - attitudes, hidden desires, habits, stereotypes that can “hide” behind what we perceive as obvious in ourselves, distort our assessment, make us unconsciously avoid awareness of certain experiences, forget events, etc. In addition, with this approach, the inner and outer worlds are rigidly opposed, which is also criticized. It follows from what has been said that in self-observation the psyche manifests itself only in a certain way, distorted and fragmented.
A feature of psychology is that, leaving the psyche as an object of reflection, it cannot make it an object of direct study; she has to look for other objects for this, in order to draw conclusions about the psyche as such through their analysis. The choice of such a “secondary object” or “intermediary object” (for example, behavior, activity) depends on what is considered the main, determining mental life, that is, the explanatory principle that is offered by a particular scientific school.
As you understand, the final answer to questions like “what is the soul?” or "what is the psyche?" does not exist, although various areas of psychological science sometimes run the risk of giving definitions. Instead of trying to give an exact answer, we briefly follow how the ideas about the soul (psyche) changed, that is, how the subject of psychology changed; thereby we denote the range of possible approaches - which is important for the "Introduction". Of course, we cannot even consider the leading psychological theories with relative completeness, but we will try to highlight the most important points. In the course of this consideration, we will see attempts to develop psychology both as a natural science and as a humanitarian discipline.
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Classification of Sciences
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